This week, a hot new bombshell enters the (Greek) villa. Welcome to Alabama Rush—or #RushTok—season two. Did you miss the stacked Cartier Love bracelets and Tuscaloosa’s Pants store? I did.
For the unfamiliar, mid-August marks the beginning of sorority recruitment at the University of Alabama a.k.a. ‘Bama rush. Young women from across the country, but particularly the South, flock to the state school for its Greek life system, which boasts some of the largest formal recruitment numbers in the country. More than 2,500 women participate every year as a fun—or, more often, excruciating—way to meet new friends and find “forever homes” amid a sea of Lulus ruffle skirts and Shein strappy heels.
But it wasn’t until a slew of TikToks went viral last year that the whole world started paying attention to this annual phenomenon. #Rushtok’s wild plot lines were not only entertaining but also demystified the recruitment process, and the lives of the young women at the center of it all began to mirror those of reality TV stars or niche internet celebrities as full-blown adults made Fantasy Football-style brackets to predict what houses the girls would end up pledging. Last summer’s hottest form of entertainment wasn’t even a show at all—although, with the amount of heartbreak, drama, and underdog character storylines, it might as well have been.
This year, the stakes are higher and the audience bigger. The #BamaRush hashtag has 1.7 billion views and counting. Noah Schnapp, Doja Cat beefer and Stranger Things star, is among them, commenting on a TikTok announcing the start of season two, “BAMA RUSHHHH.”
Just like any other hot reality series, #RushTok has all the tropes you’d expect in your summer entertainment. There’s love! There’s heartbreak! There’s deception! There are underdogs we root for and women we love to hate because we’re not as cool as they are. But while the contestants on shows like Love Island, Celebrity Big Brother, or Love Is Blind are generally seeking notoriety (and love, maybe) in producer-controlled environments, the main players here are young women self-documenting what can only be described as speed dating for friends.
Who can forget that heart-thumping first season of Alabama Rush? I remember where I was when Emma Lou, otherwise known as @dollypartonwannabee02, announced she got a bid from Alpha Delta Pi along with her roommate. Or when Makayla Culpepper, a fan favorite, claimed she was unfairly dropped from recruitment in a lengthy series on her page @whatwouldjimmybuffettdo.
This season, the focus has shifted a bit. While we still care about the new recruits, many of the videos making the rounds this year feel more like a laid-out marketing plan for the University of Alabama’s PanHellenic organizations to convince the women cycling through their houses that they have the best sisterhood, the trendiest style, and the most fun on-campus pairings and events. Work week, the days leading up to formal recruitment in which sorority members rehearse their walk-and-talk scripts for hours on end, was described in exhausting detail, capturing every themed dress-up day, bob wig, and choreographed dance to a sped-up version of Rex Orange County’s “AMAZING.”